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Steps to Safe Digging

Many homeowners in Wisconsin have a long list of outdoor projects that need to be tackled in the spring and summer months. These projects could include anything from a new patio, to installing a fence, to simply planting a garden, shrubs or trees. Diggers Hotline wants you to complete these projects safely. Following these steps will help along the way. 

Step 1: Contact Diggers Hotline 

Safe Digging is no accident and the first step is contacting us. We are ready to hear from you 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Simply dial 811 or file online here


It doesn't matter how deep you may be digging. Contacting Diggers Hotline is required by Wisconsin law for all digging projects in your yard.


Step 2: Wait Three Business Days

After contacting Diggers Hotline and providing us with the information about you and your digging plans, we will provide you with a ticket number and a legal start date and time, which will be three business days in the future. The three business days does not include weekends or state holidays. 


During the three business day waiting period, utilities will send locators to mark their buried lines that are near your jobsite with colored paint and flags. 


Make sure to wait until your start date and time to begin digging. You will have 10 calendar days from your project's start date to begin your work. If you start after 10 days, or if you have an interruption of more than 10 calendar days, you'll have to contact Diggers Hotline again to get the lines re-marked and you will be given a new three working day start date and time.


Step 3: Respect the Marks

Once the markings are in place and your start date and time has passed, it's time to start digging. The marks provide an approximate location of the buried lines. It's best to dig at least 18 inches away from the marks.


If you need to dig closer than 18 inches to the marks, proceed carefully using only hand tools. Utility lines are installed at different depths, and those depths may change over time. There's no good way to determine how deep you can dig and still stay safe. That's why using powered digging equipment, such as rototiller or augers, within the 18 inch zone is prohibited.  


By following these steps you can avoid damaging buried lines, which mean your project can be completed safely and without additional costs. 

Diggers Hotline can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by simply dialing 811 or 800-242-8511.  Locate requests can also be submitted online